This year was expected to be a rebuilding year for the Seminoles, and through nine games that has certainly been the case. There have been highs and lows with a very inexperienced, and injury riddled, roster. That's to be expected after losing a heisman trophy winner, the most productive wide receiver in program history, the best tight end in program history, four offensive linemen that are on NFL rosters, two NFL corners, and two NFL defensive linemen. When you lose 29 players to the NFL over a three year span, with a good number being underclassmen, there will be a drop off at some point.
Still, there are plenty of things to be excited about if you are a Florida State fan. So far this season 28 freshman have gotten some form of playing time. Even with all of those issues the Seminoles are 7-2 on the season, and have a chance to win 10 games for the fourth straight season. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher isn't looking to the future yet, but he knows that he has something to build on.
"We played, what, 28 freshmen this year?" Fisher said. "A lot of freshmen. Probably top two or three teams in the country as far as playing freshmen. So that's exciting and encouraging for what we got going on in the future. Keep going."
Of those 28 freshmen, 10 have started at least one game for the Seminoles this season. The Florida State offense has only one senior, Quarterback Everett Golson, and 13 of the 22 current starters overall are underclassmen. That Florida State has the talent is not a question. Of the players that will be on the roster next year, 56.9-percent of them were blue chip recruits.
Florida State is currently in the process of bringing in another top class. More than half of their current commitments are blue chip recruits, and they are still in on a number of the top ranked recruits in the country. A few of those recruits, such as Levonta Taylor and Malik Henry, have the ability to come in and play as freshmen.
Talent is obviously not the issue. Only a handful of programs around the country are even in the ball park of the Seminoles blue chip percentage. The issue this season is that the Seminoles have dealt with the growing pains from an inexperienced roster, and the lack of consistent quarterback play.
Everett Golson and Sean Maguire have both had their highs and lows this season. Golson will not be on the roster next year, but Maguire will be a redshirt senior. That does not necessarily mean that he will be the starter though. Florida State has a few talented quarterbacks on the roster behind Maguire. Redshirt freshman JJ Cosentino and true freshman Deondre Francois are already on the roster, and the Seminoles have Malik Henry, one of the top quarterback recruits in the country, committed to them.
On offense the Seminoles return one of college football's best running backs in Dalvin Cook, and will have a much more experienced offensive line. If the starting quarterback can get the passing attack going once again this will be a very dangerous offense. Although they have not performed as well as Florida State fans had hoped, which is due in large part to injuries, there is a lot of young talent at the wide receiver and tight end positions. Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will have plenty to work with going forward.
The Florida State defense has been stout this season, and a lot of that is thanks to the talented underclassmen that are playing. There are 12 underclassmen in the two-deep of the current defense including two of the Top-5 true freshmen in the country according to Pro Football Focus. The Seminoles are losing three starters and four contributors to graduation, with the chance that a couple more leave for the NFL. That will mean that some of the talented younger players that have not made an impact yet will get their chance.
The Seminoles impressive three year run has come to an end this season. They won't be winning their fourth straight ACC championship, and won't be a player for the National Championship. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher knows what he has on the roster though, and doesn't see this as the end of a run. He sees it as the start of the next run Florida State will go on.
"I think it's the beginning of something," Fisher said. "What I saw in the eyes of those players has me extremely excited for what we're going to do in the future of our program. I mean, you see guys who want to win. Guys who know how to win. There's talent enough to do it. You see hurt in their eyes. Guys I think will grow from this and mature. I think it's the start. I think we have the makings of an outstanding program. I'm happy with where we're at... It's been a heck of a run. Time to start another one."